Rights to food and freedom from poverty

Thursday 4 June 2015, 6:30pm - 8:00pm

Garden Court Chambers

Date: Thursday 4 June 2015
Time: 6:30pm - 8:00pm
Venue: Garden Court Chambers, 57-60 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3LJ  

Share This Page

Email This Page

Part of the Fundamental Freedoms Seminar series

While celebrations this year focus on the Magna Carta and the fundamental human rights principles it laid down, this seminar is part of a series seeking to explore, highlight and refocus attention on forgotten fundamental rights and freedoms which affect the lives of people in the UK today. The Right to Food is one such right.

In the face of austerity, public spending and welfare cuts, and a rise in the use of food banks, this seminar will be taking a timely look at the human right to food. Food insecurity is a growing and troubling phenomenon for a country as wealthy as the UK to be confronted with.

Recent research by the University of Oxford makes explicit the link between benefits sanctions, a rise in unemployment, cuts in public spending and the resulting rise in recourse to emergency food aid by communities. This seminar seeks to place food insecurity in the UK within an international human rights framework, consider how a human right to food can be enforced and ask how this can be accomplished in the UK through welfare benefits litigation.

What this seminar will cover:

  • A human right to food – content, nutritional quality of foods and well-being.
  • Enforcement of economic and social rights through litigation: the constitutional model versus parliamentary sovereignty.
  • A survey of UK test cases brought in response to welfare cuts, including MA & Others, the challenge to the ‘bedroom-tax’ and SG & Others and the Supreme Court’s ruling on the benefit cap
  • Why the UK’s obligations under the UNCRC (on the rights of the child) and the UNCRPD (on the treatment of the disabled) are likely to feature in future welfare benefits litigation based on indirect discrimination under the HRA 1998.

What is included?

  • 1.5 CPD hours
  • Talks prepared by social security and international law experts
  • Comprehensive notes for your future reference
  • The opportunity to ask questions
  • Refreshments

Who should attend?

Welfare benefits practitioners and NGOs working in the areas of international socio-economic rights and the legal dimensions of austerity.

Profile of speakers:

Desmond Rutledge is a public law barrister who specialises in social security law.  Before coming to the Bar, Desmond worked as a welfare rights adviser in the not-for-profit sector. He joined Garden Court Chambers in 2004 and was short-listed for Young Legal Aid Barrister of the Year in 2007 for his work in social security. He has continued to represent social security claimants in both the Upper Tribunal and the higher courts.  His recent cases include: Burnip v Birmingham City Council & Anor [2012] EWCA Civ 629, (on discriminatory effect of housing benefit rules on disabled claimants in need of an overnight carer), Sanneh v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Others [2015] EWCA Civ 49 on the rights of ‘Zambrano carers’ to social assistance as a matter of EU law and Blakesley v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2015] EWCA Civ 141 on whether the UK is under a legal obligation to make back-payments of social assistance to asylum seekers who, upon inquiry, are found to be refugees.

Dr Margot E Salomon is Associate Professor in the Law Department at the London School of Economics.  Dr Salomon has been a consultant to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on extreme poverty and human rights (2009), Advisor to the UN High-level Task Force on the Right to Development (2004-9), and a Member of the International Law Association's Committee on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2008-2012). Dr Salomon’s research interests include the legal dimensions of world poverty and the nature and scope of international cooperation and the contribution and limits of international human rights law.  Her other expertise includes socio-economic rights and the role and responsibilities of international organisations (IMF, World Bank etc). In April 2015 she  was invited by the Speaker of the Greek Parliament to join the Special Committee of the Hellenic Parliament for the Audit of the Greek Debt (Debt Truth Committee).

Smita Shah (Chair) is a family and international law barrister at Garden Court Chambers. Alongside her domestic practice, she is active in international human rights and humanitarian law and her particular areas of interest are child rights and women's rights.

Book online


We are top ranked by independent legal directories and consistently win awards.

+ View more awards